You could stand on a corner and look around until a restaurant sign draws you in. But we've got a better idea. Each week, Agoura Hills Patch picks a great restaurant either in a town or nearby that is worth checking out.
Here's this week's choice:
Overview: When it comes to dining on great Italian cuisine, one of the first places I think of is Grissini Ristorante Italiano. With an expansive food and wine menus, there is always something new to try. You can either relax at their small bar to enjoy a martini and small plate after a long day, or you can sit in the candle-lit dining room for a four-course feast. Owner Giuseppe Bellisario spreads smiles and is always coming around to make sure your food is delicious. With their renowned homemade pastas and daily specials, I never leave without being completely full and satisfied. This is a family-friendly restaurant but also great for a date night.
Drinks: If you're looking for a traditional glass of an Italian red or white, you will find it at Grissini. They have an varied wine list, featuring wines from all over California, Italy and champagne from France. Since there are so many from which to choose, I will list a favorite from each section. I love the Mionetto Prosecco from Veneto, Italy as it is light and crisp. The Borgo Conventi white and Tormaresca Chardonnay are my favorite. For reds I like the Estancia pinot noir and Robert Mondavi merlot. An Italian meal would not be complete without a glass of Chianti. They also have mineral water, sodas, espressos, cappuccino, caffe lattes and assorted hot teas.
Appetizers: Be ready to get stuffed! The Fiori di Zucca, or fried zucchini flowers, are amazing and stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. Enjoy Italian classics like the Bruschetta or Calamari Fritti. Stay on the fried theme with their homemade Mozzarella Fritta–fried mozzarella with marinara sauce. Keep it simple with the Affettati Misti, a mixed platter of cured Tusan meats paired perfectly with a glass of wine. I also love the Peperoni Arrostiti, roasted yellow and red bell peppers with Parmesan cheese and black olives.
Soups/Salads: Start your meal off with a savory soup like the Minestrone Toscano or Stracciatella with egg drops, spinach leaves and cheese in chicken broth. A house favorite is the Pappa Al Pomodoro with tomato chunks, garlic and bread. I loved the Chopped Salad Italiana loaded with vegetables, turkey or salami and served in an edible foccacia bowl. The Insaltata Caprese with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes is a must-have. Grissini's signature salad is the Carpaccio di Perra wtih pears, gorganzola cheese, honey-roasted almonds and lettuce with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette. You can also start off small with a classic Caesarre or Mista Italiana, mixed green salad.
Pizza: If you're looking for a great slice of pizza, look no further. Grissini's pizzas come in medium, large or grande. Keep it classic with a Margherita topped with basil, tomato sauce and mozzarella. If you don't like cheese, try the Marinara. I love cheese, so the Quattro Formaggi con Pere, also known as four cheese with pear, is delicious. For meat lovers, you must try the Prosciutto with mozzarella or the Pepperoni. They have a couple vegetarian options like the Primavera with mozzarella, arugula, tomatoes and sliced Parmesas, as well as the Vegetariana with mixed vegetables. Their Calzone Pollo, Broccoli e Peperoncino is stuffed with chicken, broccoli and peppers. Enjoy a calzone stuffed with mozzarella, sausage and olives with the Calzone Siciliano.
Pasta & More: What I love best about this innovative restaurant is the With all their homemade pastas and sauces, there are 540 different combinations from which to choose. Their menu boasts a full list of tomato, vegetable, seafood and cream-based sauces. Enjoy homemade gnocchi, lemon pepper fettuccine, rigatoni, wild mushroom ravioli and pappardelle to name a few. If risotto is more your speed, try the Risotta alla Boscaiola with three different mushrooms and cheese or the Risotta allo Scoglio with clams, mussels, shrimps and calamari in a tomato sauce. Grissini also has a a variety of grilled paninis like the Caprese, Pesto Pollo and Tonno, or tuna salad.
Entrees: If you can make it to the main event, I recommend their Pollo Parmigiana, which is breaded chicken with marinara sauce covered in mozzarella cheese, served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. Other chicken classics like Pollo Cacciatore, Pollo Cipriani and Pollo Milanese are delicious. Grissini boasts fresh fish daily, like the Salmone in an orange brandy sauce or the Pesce Spada or filet of Atlantic swordfish with balsamic vinaigrette and caramelized onions. The daily white fish, or Pesce Bianco, with scallions, tomatoes and mushrooms is amazing. For red meat lovers, try the Filetto al Barolo filet served with Porcini mushrooms or the Vitello Picatta, a veal scaloppini with butter and capers.
Desserts: There's nothing better than having a choice of some classic Italian desserts at the end of a meal. Make sure to save room! The Tiramisu is delicious with espresso, ladyfingers, and marzipan. Enjoy a Panna-Cotta with Italian custard or a classic Cannoli with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. My personal favorite is the Chocolate Mousse served in a martini glass with whipped cream. If you like Creme Brulee, there's none better.